Inside the Royal Family’s favourite British hotels, from the retreat where Meghan Markle spent the night before her wedding to the posh property where Elizabeth and Margaret went dancing
- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret used to attend dances at London’s The Savoy
- Guests at The Goring Hotel in London can stay in the Royal Suite – it has a ‘unique collection of royal artefacts’
- At the Lygon Arms Hotel in the Cotswolds, guests can check into the suite where King Charles I once stayed
These staycation destinations have the royal seal of approval.
From the remote Scottish Highlands to the bustling heart of London, these are the Royal Family’s favourite British hotels and guest houses, having hosted everything from King Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding reception to Prince Philip’s stag do.
Some even have ‘Royal Suites’ that you can check into to get a taste of the royal treatment. Scroll down for more on the crowning glories of the UK hospitality industry…
The Savoy Hotel – London
The Royal Family have been ‘intrinsically linked’ to The Savoy since the London hotel’s opening in 1889. Above is the Royal Suite
Throughout the 1940s, the Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, would attend dinners and dances at The Savoy. ‘There was no special treatment, just a call from the Palace to The Savoy, informing them of the princesses’ plans, and the royal party would be seated at a discreet table in the Thames Foyer (above) for dinner and dancing,’ the hotel says
Elizabeth at the wedding reception of Vicary Gibbs and Captain Hon. A.G.V. Elphinstone at The Savoy in 1946
This photograph taken at the Elphinstone wedding in The Savoy caught Elizabeth standing beside a ‘handsome man in uniform’ – Prince Philip. ‘This was their first public appearance as a couple,’ the hotel says
Diana, Princess of Wales (centre) attends The Savoy’s Centenary Ball in 1989
The hotel sits on the River Thames in the heart of the city of Westminster
‘The Royal Family have been intrinsically linked to The Savoy since its opening in 1889,’ says the hotel. The relationship began with the Prince of Wales (later Edward the VII), who ‘frequently dined at the hotel with various friends, romantic entanglements and at times his wife’.
The esteemed establishment, which sits on the River Thames in the heart of the city of Westminster, welcomed Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret throughout the 1940s – the sisters would attend dinners and dances at the hotel.
‘There was no special treatment, just a call from the Palace to The Savoy, informing them of the princesses’ plans, and the royal party would be seated at a discreet table in the Thames Foyer for dinner and dancing. The princesses left their coats in the same cloakroom as all the other women present and checked their make-up in the same mirrors. Margaret especially loved to dance and would pretend not to notice when her sister indicated it was time to go home,’ the hotel reveals.
In 1946, when Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Vicary Gibbs and Captain Hon. A.G.V. Elphinstone, which had its reception at The Savoy, a photograph was taken (above) that caught the princess standing beside a ‘handsome man in uniform’ – Prince Philip. ‘This was their first public appearance as a couple,’ the hotel says, adding: ‘Many years later the happy couple would spend their wedding anniversary [in] one of the hotel’s private dining rooms.’
Later, in the 1980s, King Charles and Princess Diana also ‘favoured’ The Savoy, with Diana attending fundraising events and award ceremonies such as The Savoy’s Centenary Ball of 1989. Diana ‘often greeted her admirers outside our river entrance’, a statement notes.
Its royal ties are just as strong today – recent years have seen The Savoy host multiple events for the Prince’s Trust, a charity established by King Charles in 1986.
At the time of writing, doubles at The Savoy are priced from £874 (www.thesavoylondon.com).
Cliveden House – Berkshire
Berkshire’s Cliveden House, pictured, has hosted royalty from King George I to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
Queen Victoria often travelled to Cliveden by boat from Windsor Castle to take tea with her friend the Duchess of Sutherland. Pictured is the hotel’s Sutherland Suite
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, arrive at Cliveden House Hotel on the night before Meghan’s royal wedding to Prince Harry in 2018
Rooms at Cliveden are priced from £503 per night
Cliveden House, set on a 376-acre estate in Berkshire, has a fascinating origin story – it was built in 1666 by the second Duke of Buckingham as a gift to his mistress Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury.
Its royal connections are many, with the hotel explaining that it ‘has hosted royalty from King George I to Queen Elizabeth II’.
Megan Markle is one of the more recent royal guests.
The National Trust notes that ‘it was, for a while, in the 18th century the home of Prince Frederick of Wales’.
It continues: ‘The current Grade I listed house owes its elegant architecture to Sir Charles Barry, who is best known for designing the Palace of Westminster. His Italianate masterpiece was built for the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland in the 1850s and is the third house here, the other two having burned down.’
The hotel’s website adds that ‘Queen Victoria often travelled to Cliveden by boat from Windsor Castle to take tea with her great friend the Duchess of Sutherland, arriving at Cliveden’s secluded Spring Cottage on the banks of the Thames’.
What’s more, ‘George VI and Queen Elizabeth were guests at Cliveden with their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’, the hotel reveals. More recently Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and her mother, Doria Ragland, spent the night at Cliveden before her royal wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018.
At the time of writing, rooms at Cliveden House are priced from £503 per night (www.clivedenhouse.co.uk).
Penolva holiday cottage – Cornwall
Penolva holiday cottage was built in the early 1960s by Dick Wilkins, a close friend of the Queen Mother
‘It is documented that the Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family often visited Wilkins and stayed at Penolva,’ the guest house reveals. Above is one of its bedrooms
This holiday cottage, which can host up to 12 people, is set in the pretty Cornish harbour village of St Mawes, and was built in the early 1960s by Dick Wilkins, a close friend of the Queen Mother.
The owners reveal: ‘It is documented that the Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family often visited Wilkins and stayed at Penolva coming ashore from Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia [which was in service between 1954 and 1997] via the slipway originally built for that purpose.’
According to the owners, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the property is its private jetty, which offers guests access to the sea for swimming, kayaking or ‘just floating about’.
Penolva is open for rental, and prices are available upon request (www.stmawesretreats.co.uk/properties/penolva).
Claridge’s – London
Claridge’s received its first royal visit in the 1860s when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert graced its rooms and corridors
In the hotel’s Royal Suite, many of the design motifs and materials reflect the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, taking inspiration from the ‘intricately embroidered gown’ that she wore in the 1953 ceremony
King Charles and Princess Diana attend a state banquet held by the King of Morocco at Claridge’s in 1987
A venerable London institution, Claridge’s received its first royal visit in the 1860s when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert graced its rooms and corridors. ‘The hotel soon [became] a favourite of heads of state and royalty throughout Europe,’ the hotel’s website explains.
King Charles and Princess Diana hosted their wedding reception in the establishment in 1981. The Royals also arranged to have a private dinner at the hotel for Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday in 1986, and it’s here that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary the following year.
In the hotel’s Royal Suite, many of the design motifs and materials are said to reflect the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, taking inspiration from the ‘intricately embroidered gown’ that she wore in the 1953 ceremony.
At the time of writing, double rooms at Claridge’s are priced from £840 (www.claridges.co.uk).
Coworth Park – Ascot
Coworth Park, dating back to the 1700s, can be found on the borders of Windsor Great Park
In 2018, Prince Harry spent the night at Coworth Park before his wedding to Meghan Markle
Rooms at Coworth Park are priced from £570. Above is the bathroom in one of the suites
This stylish country house hotel, dating back to the 1700s, can be found on the borders of Windsor Great Park.
‘The Prince and Princess of Wales, the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, stayed at Coworth Park in 1879 and 1883 when they attended the races at nearby Ascot,’ the hotel reveals.
It has also attracted the contemporary royal crowd – in 2018 Prince Harry spent the night here before his wedding to Meghan Markle.
At the time of writing, rooms are priced from £570 (www.dorchestercollection.com/en/ascot/coworth-park).
Lygon Arms Hotel – The Cotswolds
The Lygon Arms Hotel, set in The Cotswolds’ village of Broadway, counts King Edward VII and King Edward VIII among its royal guests
Guests can check into the Charles I suite (above), where King Charles stayed before launching into battle during the English Civil War in 1649
Rooms at The Lygon Arms Hotel are priced from £259 per night. Pictured is the hotel’s eye-catching pool
This Cotswolds gem, set in the village of Broadway, has been hosting guests since the 16th century.
Today, visitors can check into the Charles I suite, where King Charles I stayed before launching into battle during the English Civil War in 1649. A coat of arms sits above the fireplace to mark his royal visit, and a four-poster bed ‘continues the regal theme’.
The hotel adds: ‘Royal visitors [also] include King Edward VII – who motored to the hotel in 1905 – and in 1913 his young grandson, the playboy Prince of Wales and future Edward VIII, who in 1936 was to abdicate over his determination to marry the American divorcee, Mrs [Wallis] Simpson.’
Notable non-royal guests include Oliver Cromwell, said to have occupied a room here immediately before the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
At the time of writing, rooms are priced from £259 per night (www.lygonarmshotel.co.uk).
The Dorchester – London
The Dorchester has long been ‘favoured by royalty and celebrities, hosting countless state banquets and legendary parties’. Above is the bathroom in the Elizabeth Taylor suite
Before she was made Queen, Elizabeth attended her first charity ball dance at The Dorchester. Pictured is the Eisenhower Suite
In 1947, Prince Philip held his stag night party at The Dorchester. Above is the hotel’s panoramic rooftop
The Dorchester, which lies beside London’s Hyde Park, has been welcoming guests since 1931
Queen Elizabeth II dancing at the Midsummer Festival Ball at The Dorchester in 1951
This revered hotel – set by London’s Hyde Park – opened in 1931 and has long been ‘favoured by royalty and celebrities, hosting countless state banquets and legendary parties’.
The royals have passed through its doors on many occasions – before she was made Queen, Elizabeth attended her first charity ball dance at The Dorchester.
Listing the other royal engagements, the hotel notes: ‘[Queen Elizabeth] attended an event at The Dorchester the day prior to the announcement of her engagement to Prince Philip on 10 July 1947.’
What’s more, in 1947, Prince Philip held his stag night party at The Dorchester.
The hotel continues: ‘The Dorchester celebrated the coronation of [Queen Elizabeth] in 1953 by inviting leading British stage set designer Oliver Messel to decorate the hotel facade.
‘The decorations were said to be the best in London.’
The hotel notes that, in the years that followed, Queen Elizabeth visited The Dorchester a number of times for state visits, and when the hotel reopened after a refurbishment in 1990, Prince Philip unveiled a plaque in the lobby.
At the time of writing, rooms are priced from £894 (www.dorchestercollection.com).
The Goring Hotel – London
The Goring Hotel, a family-run establishment that dates back to 1910, lies in London’s Belgravia, a short stroll from Buckingham Palace
The Goring was honoured with a Royal Warrant in 2013 – it’s the ‘only hotel to have been granted a Royal Warrant for hospitality services’
The penthouse Royal Suite (above) has a ‘unique collection of royal artefacts, from handwritten letters and stationery to military regalia’ and a ‘life-size’ portrait of Queen Victoria on the wall
The Goring Hotel, a family-run establishment that dates back to 1910, lies in London’s Belgravia, a short stroll from Buckingham Palace.
‘The Goring has been a firm Royal favourite for many years, since it first opened its doors,’ says a statement from the hotel. ‘The coronations of George VI and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth saw the hotel filled with royalty attending these great occasions from all over the world. The Queen Mother also famously enjoyed Eggs Drumkilbo – a lobster and egg-based dish that remains one of the most popular dishes in The Dining Room.’
It continues: ‘In 1990, the late George Goring accepted an O.B.E. from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace for “services to the hotel industry”. This was followed by the appointment of a Royal Warrant to The Goring in 2013 – the only hotel to have been granted a Royal Warrant for hospitality services.’
The hotel notes that Royal Warrants of Appointment ‘are a mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services’ to members of the Royal Family.
Guests may feel closest to the monarchy with a stay in the Royal Suite – the penthouse suite has a ‘unique collection of royal artefacts, from handwritten letters and stationery to military regalia’ and a ‘life-size’ portrait of Queen Victoria on the wall.
At the time of writing, rooms at The Goring Hotel are priced from £684 (www.thegoring.com).
The Granary Lodge – the Scottish Highlands
The Granary Lodge is a bed and breakfast on the grounds of The Castle of Mey, the holiday retreat purchased by the Queen Mother in 1952, in the Scottish Highlands
The 17th-century lodge was used as a garage to house cars used by the Queen Mother, and also held guest rooms that were used by her chauffeur and staff
According to Clarence House, the official London residence of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla, the B&B is owned and operated by The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust
King Charles opening the 10-bedroom property in 2019
The Granary Lodge is a ‘luxury’ bed and breakfast on the north coast of the Scottish Highlands in the grounds of The Castle of Mey, the holiday retreat purchased by the Queen Mother in 1952.
One part of the 17th-century lodge was used as a garage to house cars used by the Queen Mother, and the accommodation section, which today houses guest rooms numbered seven and eight, was used by the Queen Mother’s chauffeur and staff.
When the Queen Mother died in 2002, an animal centre was opened in the lodge under The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust. The centre was moved to a new facility in 2016 when the building underwent restoration to turn it into the cosy guest house it is today, with the help of King Charles’ charity The Prince’s Foundation. King Charles himself – dressed in a tartan kilt – formally opened the 10-bedroom property, which offers sea views over the strait of Pentland Firth to Dunnet Head and Orkney, in 2019.
According to Clarence House, the official London residence of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla, the accommodation is owned and operated by The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, and profits raised go towards ‘maintaining and operating the estate as a tourist destination’.
At the time of writing, double rooms are priced from £165 (www.castleofmey.org.uk/hospitality/granary) .
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